Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Terrorist group’ hits back at PM’s threats

‘Terrorist group’ hits back at PM’s threats

‘Terrorist group’ hits back at PM’s threats

The Khmer People Power Movement, a US-based opposition group, fired back yesterday against Prime Minister Hun Sen’s accusation that it is a terrorist movement, while observers warned the premier’s attendant threat of arrests bode poorly for the freedom of upcoming elections.

Last week, the premier accused the KPPM of training an armed insurrectionist force in Thailand, and of being interlinked with other terrorist groups hiding amongst the opposition – a guise he said would not spare them from arrest

The KPPM said Hun Sen’s speech amounted to little more than intimidation and reiterated its commitment to non-violence in a statement yesterday.

“The KPPM has only international law as its arms to put an end the criminal regime ruled by Hun Sen,” the statement read.

Koul Panha, executive director of election watchdog the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said Hun Sen’s speech “creates an environment of fear among the opposition”.

“This election is a less free election if this kind of fear happens to the opposition this election time,” he noted, adding that the CPP was less violent than in years past, but it would be to little effect “if they’re less violent and they are still creating an environment of fear”.

Were the premier to follow through on opposition arrests, it would “be a very big concern” to the international community, and that “the legitimacy of the elections will contribute to the legitimacy of the government”, he said.

However, the number of registered election monitors has declined this year from past elections. US Embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh – who did not comment on Hun Sen’s request that the CIA investigate the so-called terrorist groups based in the US – said embassy representatives would observe polling stations, but no monitors would be sent from the US.

Similarly, EU Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain said that Europe, which sent 124 observers in 2008, would not be sending any this year thanks to “budget constraints”.

“Since 1993, the regular [European election observers] sent to Cambodia have made a number of recommendations. Yet, some of them remain to be taken on board by relevant authorities,” Cautain noted.

That very failure to take advice was to blame for the diminished monitors, said Cambodian Center for Human Rights president Ou Virak, who also suggested a cause for Hun Sen’s heightened rhetoric.

“Hun Sen is sending a message that any call for regime change will be met with harshly, and referring to regime change has been on his mind since the Arab Spring,” he said.


  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release